Thursday, April 10, 2014

Top 10 Singapore Must Try Food

If you're going to this lovely garden city and is wondering what are the Singapore must try food, here's what I would suggest.

 Going to Singapore was very exciting for me and believe it or not, one of the top reasons of me wanting to go there is to sample their local food. I agree that food greatly mirrors how vibrant the culture of a specific place is and not trying the local fare is a complete miss on what could have been a total experience.

Prior to the trip, I was browsing and reading some tips on what food to try when I arrive in Singapore. From the vast lists I've read,  I've created a mental note on what appealed to me most and researched the best places to have them. Like with all my previous travels though, some plans had changed and instead of looking for the said places, I (together with my husband and my sister) ended up having our meals wherever we're near during lunch, dinner and siesta while wandering around the city. We ate mostly in hawker centres, (like a food court here in the Philippines) a place with several stalls selling different food choices from each other. These are great places offering sumptuous, clean and affordable meals. I noticed that in all hawker centres, there's just always one stall selling drinks.

Singapore is a multicultural city and country, something that is evident when you roam around. With Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian influences (I'd say Arabic too), no wonder why they have so much diversity in their local cuisine. That's something I truly appreciate during my stay in this modern yet culturally rich city.

I've stayed for ten days in Singapore and had eaten mostly Singaporean food. Based on experience, here's my list of Top 10 food I encourage you to try in Singapore, specially if it's your first time going there.

1.  Hainanese Chicken Rice
Do I need to say more? Maybe not because one can never utter the words Hainanese chicken without relating it to Singapore. Although it is said to have come from Hainan province in China, it is tagged as the "national dish" of Singapore. I've tried this at different stalls and the tender juicy meat and the gelatinous skin of the steamed chicken and even the roasted one never failed to wow me. Combined with the aroma and spices of ginger and chili dip, this is like heaven in my mouth.

The best I've tasted is in a stall located in the hawker center near MRT Braddell station where we stayed. I always notice a long queue of patrons whenever we're passing by. This stall was featured in several local newspapers for their Hainanese Chicken rice.

2. Satay/Sate
Meat that is seasoned, skewered and cooked in smoky flaming coals, who would say no to that? With Singapore's version, the spices used are just so distinct in flavor. Dipped into the peanut sauce, it absolutely is a winner. I could eat this everyday of my life. This dish is said to be an Indonesian and/or Malaysian influence.

 I also had tried this a few times and my favorite is the one being served in The Singapore Food Trail, a food station at the foot of the Singapore Flyer. Their version has a richer taste and a little bit spicy.

3. Chili Crab
This is another famous dish that Singapore is known for.  The crab is cooked with a savory sauce made mostly from chili and tomato sauce and egg I guess, based on what I had. I've read it's supposed to have a hint of sweetness on the sauce and has a perfect balance of spiciness but what we tried is really overly hot. A soft shelled crab was also used instead of a mud crab. Despite that, I still enjoyed the dining experience, just made sure not to dip it in too much sauce. I think it's not just me who enjoyed it, proof is my photo of the crab after we devoured on it. :D

The next time I go back to Singapore though, I'll surely head to the East coast where I've heard the best restaurants serving chili crabs as well as pepper crabs are located. Ours was ordered from a stall in Makansutra, a favoured dining destination and meeting place of expats and Filipinos (just noticed) in the city. By the way, a friendly reminder, bring a lot of tissue with you and a hand sanitizer if there's no where to wash your hands before eating and specially after dining, it surely will get very messy.

4. Popiah
If you love your vegetables, this is another dish you must try in Singapore. A Chinese influence, Singapore had made it their own. It is similar to a spring roll, well, really is a spring roll, with veggies wrapped in thin, soft, paper like crepe. It's their version of our lumpiang sariwa back here in the Philippines, somewhat similar but you have to give it a try because the veggies inside and the sauce tastes somewhat different from our version. Not to sound unpatriotic but I really prefer their version.

5.  Oatmeal Prawn
I'm in love with prawns and I think this is a brilliant dish! Tried this dish twice, loved it both times. Chewing the prawn and the oatmeal together produced an interesting texture and contrast in my mouth. The prawn was very succulent while the oatmeal was kind of  crispy. It tasted buttery, with a hint of garlic and a bit spicy. 

6. Murtabak
I absolutely don't have any idea about this food. Thankfully, while walking one afternoon along North Bridge Road on our way to Arab Street and the nearby Kampong Glam, we noticed several cars slowing down on the side of the road queuing up waiting to be handed a plastic bag from what seemed to be touts from a nearby food store. Curiosity got me and my husband so we stopped by the restaurant and checked their menu. The food they were serving aren't familiar at all. Without any idea what to order, we asked the server that we'd like to have whatever the person on the next table is eating.  We were told it is called murtabak. We decided to try both the mutton and chicken murtabak and requested that we'll have the food to go (take away in Singapore's term).

It was a good call trying it out. It was like a pan fried pancake with shredded meat of mutton and chicken.  It came with a thick curry gravy that added more flavor to this food.The aroma and spices of murtabak transported me to a middle eastern country although I've never been there.

7. Fried Oyster Omelette
As the name implies,this dish is cooked using beaten eggs that is filled with small oysters then pan fried. What I liked with what I tried is the hint of some herbs that was added into the omelette plus a little kick of spiciness. Here in the Philippines, I usually eat the oyster raw so eating oysters into it's omelette version is a fairly new experience.

8. Rojak
Here's another food I highly recommend. It isn't just one of Singapore's signature dishes but it's a healthy food for snacking considering the main ingredients are fruit and vegetable slices. I saw the uncle selling this cut up some artichokes, green apples, pineapple, cucumber and green mango that looked a bit weird. He then tossed it into a tangy brown sauce then topped with roasted ground peanuts. It got me  a few minutes to get used to the taste (because I swear this is so different from the tastes I was exposed to) but ended up liking it. It was delicious!

9.  Cendol
Cendol is a refreshing treat after walking in a sunny Singapore. It is a traditional dessert and is believed to be a Malaysian/Indonesian influence. Cendol is made of thinly shaved ice topped with green pandan flavored jelly noodles (never imagined noodles can be a dessert), grass jelly, sweetened red beans and sugar palm fruit then poured with coconut milk. It reminds me of a simpler halo-halo, our local concoction here in the Philippines. It's a creamy and cooling treat.

And last but not the least,

10. Hor Fun
This is the first meal I had upon arriving in Singapore. I'm a huge noodle fanatic and I just can't stop eating noodles. (as long as it's not instant noodles) Unlike what I usually order here back home and what we've tried in Hongkong, the hor fun in this corner stall in a hawker centre near Braddell Station is far from being oily. The thick rice noodles were al dente, the sauce has a smoky flavor, the variety of seafood used were so fresh and the chineses brocolli is cooked perfectly. The best hor fun ever. Maybe it's not really a Singapore signature dish but the fact that the auntie who swiftly cooked this is a Singaporean and considering how good it tasted, I think it should count. :D

So there's my lists. I'm thinking though, after we are satisfied with delighting on these lovely feasts, what would be the best way to end the meal? Well, don't miss on the famous teh (tea) to cap everything. Order teh tarik if you prefer hot milk tea or teh peng if your prefer cold. This is one brew that made me fall in love with tea.

I had a taste of all the food I had planned to eat in Singapore except for fish head curry and laksa (sadly). I'm thinking these two might have been included in my list if I did. I will not miss on those two when I get back to this gastronomically fulfilling city.

So there's my top 10 food to try when traveling to Singapore for the first time.


  1. Oh yummy yummy! this looks so good. I love these kind of easy but so full of flavor dishes! Indian food

  2. Next time I suggest you also try their Hokkien Mee. I'd give it three thumbs if I have an extra thumb.


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